Arizona Republicans love political theater, and press conferences are their playhouse. Each of former President Donald Trump’s handpicked MAGA acolytes has found their foil — not across the political aisle, but in a pool of reporters.
Gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake has traded barbs again and again with Brahm Resnik
from 12 News. For attorney general hopeful Abe Hamadeh, the nemesis he loves to hate is Phoenix New Times
On October 27, Lake held her latest rendition
of Geraldo Rivera inside Al Capone's vault
at her campaign headquarters. When she turned the microphone over to Hamadeh, the prickly 31-year-old wasted no time calling out the local news outlet responsible for reporting on his transgressions that then received a flood of national attention.
“The Phoenix New Times
, is that trash organization here today?” Hamadeh asked before a horde of reporters for outlets as far away as France and Japan.
He’s taking up the mantle for Lake, who in 2019 said of New Times
, "Fuck them. They're 20-year-old dopes. That's a rag for selling marijuana ads."
In August, New Times broke the story
that Hamadeh boasted to an online message board in 2008 about voting before he was legally allowed to do so and altering his mom's ballot to vote for Democrat Barack Obama. Hamadeh responded
by tweeting that New Times
is “the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. They are fake news.”
also revealed that Hamadeh failed to include
his income from two jobs, board membership, and his interests in businesses on a financial disclosure for his campaign.
At the press conference last week, Hamadeh doubled down. “You guys are playing cover for the Democratic Party, and you guys have become propagandists,” he said.
He was taking issue with another New Times
story. Three days before Lake's press event, New Times
reported that Brandon Rafi, the local attorney whose toothy mug is plastered on what seems like every billboard and bus shelter
in town, donated a huge wad
to Hamadeh’s campaign in September.
Hamadeh refused to provide a comment for that story. But he had plenty to say about it at the press conference.
“You reported on a donor of mine, doxxing him, putting his face on front page news, and trying to intimidate his First Amendment right to donate to my campaign and financially support me,” Hamadeh told the crowd as he again singled out New Times
. “Think about it. You guys are fighting voter intimidation, but you guys are perpetuating donor intimidation as well by publishing this.”
Yet campaign finance reports are public documents, which means that donor names, addresses, contact information and donation amounts are, too. Doxxing is making someone's personal information public; the New Times
published only Rafi's name and donation amount. Nevermind that the First Amendment has to do with freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.
“You all claim to be guardians of democracy,” Hamadeh chided reporters. “That’s offensive to veterans like myself who have actually served overseas.”
Hamadeh did serve in the military, but he’s also currently the subject of an investigation by the United States Army Reserve
. While on deployment in Saudi Arabia in 2021, Hamadeh had some uniformed glamour shots taken that he later used as campaign material, which runs afoul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
During his campaign, Hamadeh also has lied about his experience as a prosecutor
in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. He bragged about his trial experience, but personnel records showed he has never been to trial.
Yet it was Hamadeh at the Lake press event who told New Times
, “You’re spreading these lies so quickly.”
That was moments before he spewed yet another
antisemitic falsehood: “County attorneys are [George] Soros-funded, and they’re refusing to prosecute some of these basic crimes.”
Except county attorney offices are funded by tax revenue, state and federal grants, and funds from seizures and settlements, according to the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Not a Jewish billionaire who backs progressive causes. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office, long helmed by a Republican, received more than $126 million
from the county for its current annual budget.
“The Jewish community remains incredibly tired of Hamadeh’s inappropriate use of antisemitic tropes and his normalization of antisemitism,” Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, told New Times
in response to Hamadeh’s comment. “It is truly shameful.”
Hamadeh trails Democrat Kris Mayes by three points, according to the latest poll
from Phoenix-based OH Predictive.